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The God you worship is the man and woman you will become. If your God is an abstraction – a construct of the law - you will become and abstraction. A belief system is an advantage but a life is better. That Christ is our life is the basis of our being. That is if we are living from Him rather than from religion or worse from an ideology. The cool thing about life in the Spirit – which is what life in Jesus is – that His life manifests as us. This is the foundational grace of the Kingdom of Jesus began.

The cool thing about life in the Spirit is that Christ is manifest as us in our flesh.

Human beings are not abstractions. They are more than mere beings. They are life-giving spirits. Potentially. Legalistic and fundamentalist formulations of doctrine suffer from this main weakness. They reduce us to less than we are. They de-spiritualise us and make us an abstraction. They are formulations of the letter that kills. Not straight away. They can confine a Believer to a kind of living death of the Kind Paul called ‘this body of death.’ The simplicity of the Kingdom Jesus began is that He becomes us. Hidden in Jesus our real self is revealed.


If we are unfortunate to have been indoctrinated in a law culture, the fabric of our thought and the patterns of our ideas will be the expression of the letter. We will have a legalistic frame in which we interpret godliness. Not only will we misapply the gospel with this frame. We will contract all of what was meant to be the expanse of the Kingdom into the dryness of this abstraction. This is what Paul means when He warned that the letter kills. It sucks the life out of life.


The life of God is found as a state of being. Firstly as we are sourced in the trinity and secondly when the trinity is in us. Jesus called the container without this life THE FLESH. He said it has no value in regard to eternal life; it’s antithetical to the bottomless and infinite life that is of the Spirit. He said the spark that raises dead things to life is SPIRIT AND LIFE. These are the words He spoke on account of His union with His Father. This is the kind of life we can live and share because today we and our Father are one. Thomas F. Torrance writes,


“. . . Rationalistic fundamentalists are those who think they can treat biblical statements as independent from the ultimate Being to whom they refer. Once this move is made they can then apply preconceived rational structures to fit biblical statements (such as “God is love”) into a dogmatic system. *

But this would be to commit the error that is referred to elsewhere in this article, namely to impose our own systems of logic on the subject matter of enquiry rather than letting it teach us its own inherent logic.

Such systems of doctrine tend to be legalistic constructs of our own minds where we may seem to put grace at the center of a theological system but instead end up with a new legalistic system that does not really set people free in Christ.” (1)


As an engineer or surgeon, one might find it natural to formulate a mechanical concept of being. But this would be to miss the point. We are spirits with a body. Not bodies with a religious spirit. We are made in His image. Not He in ours.

You may have come across this ‘Jesus style’ legalism where the onus of living in proximity to Jesus is up to us. There’s a whole culture of Jesus legalism embodied in the words ‘keeping close to Jesus’. But we are no more adept at this than the Jews were in keeping the law. Jesus said that ‘His burden’ is light because it is. He is in us and with us.

The truth is that He is in us and with us and more. We are woven into each other’s being. There is nothing legalistic about this statement: ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20.

(1) taken from: Participation: Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, 22-23.

* They do this too when they use extra-biblical ‘revelation’ to construct a gospel that is no gospel at all.